Friday, March 20, 2009

"Postsingular", by Rudy Rucker

Postsingular by Rudy Rucker

i was waiting on line at the comic store when i saw this purple squid winking at me while being sucked into a green vortex. it was just a two dimensional purple squid, so i picked up the book it was attached to and threw it on top of my pile of juvenile literature. Postsingular. Good title. Singularities, getting played out maybe, but hey, they're cool. I looked at the name Rudy Rucker, also on the cover. I remembered he's a heavy hitter.

I will not be sold on this book. i will like it, perhaps begrudgingly, maybe even flirting at whole-heartedly, but i won't be sold on it. Will not. No. Not totally. I won't be sold on it because having glanced at the synopsis on the back cover; I can state assuredly that after being thoroughly engaged in the opening & middle of the book, i will, in the last third, want to quantumly refund my braintime that I spent forming new neural pathways fashioned in Pure Ruckervision.

Because why do writers who start off with the wildest of premises always collapse back into the same story structures we've seen time and time again? They’re writing them! They can do anything! The book's called POSTSINGULAR! That’s some wild stuff! But no. So I will not enjoy the latter part, where the 'giant humanoids from another quantum universe, some of whom mean to tidy up the mess we've made. Or maybe just run things' show up. I will wonder, "Mr. Rucker?, Why’d you have to go THERE? We’re PAST that! We’re POSTSINGULAR! You can end this novel with a string of new numbers, that you created. 45 pages of fictional numbers and a picture of a little cat. Who cares? Because you're a god when you’re a writer. Don’t give up on the gigantawesomeness of your fa- reaching premise and just deliver us another tired old xenophobic power struggle! Don’t do it! Postsingularize my neural pathways! I want you to do that!"

But he won't.

And i will put down the book thinking, "wow that first 2/3 was super fantastic. I really wish those giant humanoids from another quantum universe, called Suck The Fun Out Of Everything, didn't show up and give everyone Zima and month old granola bars or some shit. That part was really lame". And when i put the book down that purple Squid will still be winking at me and i'll say "fine, you were right. impulse buys are always the same" and he (she?) won't say anything in return, because that purple squid's just two dimensional.


this review was 72% correct

Thursday, March 19, 2009

"To Say Nothing of the Dog" by Connie Willis

I will hate this book, thoroughly. I will realize that, upon receipt of the book from Amazon, and seeing the front cover declare:
"The most hilarious book of its kind since
John Irving's "The Water-Method Man" and
"A Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy

I should have promptly thrown it in the garbage.

Instead, I will just assume that the Des Moines Sunday Register (the originator of this quote) was doing what most book reviewers do - calling out familiar, popular books / authors in an attempt to sway people to be more receptive while having no similarities at all to the other works.

However, this time, the comparison will be all too apt. I found "TSNOTD" boring and heavy-handed (like an Irving novel) and unfunny and uncomfortable - in a "New Yorker" cartoon way (like Confederacy).

Further to that, I will realize that not ALL books granted a Hugo Award for best novel and nominated for a Nebula Award are worth reading and begin to question my decision to read more of the books that appear on those two lists.

The only saving grace that I will come away with, from this book, is that I will learn that I don't have to finish every book I start and that it's okay to get half-way through, then throw the book in the trash. (Except, because of "green guilt", I won't send it to a land-fill, instead, I'll give the book to my sister ... who has more tolerance of crappy sci-fi than I do.)


this review was 100% inaccurate

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

"The Manual Of Detection", by Jedediah Berry

The Manual Of Detection by Jedediah Berry

This will be an enjoyable and depressing read.
I will recall having picked this book up because it had a cool cover with a gold embossed old-looking illustration of an eye. The back cover shows the eye again and below it the phrase “Never Sleeping”.

The inside back page says “In This Tightly Plotted Yet Mind-expanding debut novel, an unlikely detective, armed only with an umbrella and a singular handbook, must tangle a string of crimes committed in and through people’s dreams”.

I will begin reading this book with the unsettling worry & suspicion that it will be ripping off a lot of ideas I have been developing myself. I will shake off the suspicion part, but will still worry that it has somehow beaten me to the punch, and likely done it better than I could have

Within the first few chapters I’ll find the book to be witty and snappily written. There will be some well constructed details and the entire opening set-piece will draw me into the story pretty quickly. I’ll probably then put the book down for a few days and not touch it.

I’ll find the novel’s protagonist (if there is one) to be a bit of a cipher, lacking true character attributes or flaws, and will wonder if the author is going to get around to fleshing him/her/it out or just leave him/her/it that way- perhaps intentionally. There will be some very cool plot ideas and very cool ideas about dreamscapes and detectivery. I’ll wish that the cover looked a bit more oldey-time and unpolished, as opposed to the slick Adobe Illustrator-ish details that run along its edges.

I’ll probably wish for a few more female characters to be in there, as I’ll want my wife to read the book as well, but will know she’ll likely find it boring.
I’m not sure, but I think I will probably find the climax a bit underwhelming, and might not fully connect with the characters, but will find enough details, ideas, mood, and atmosphere to keep me pretty engaged with it all.

At the end I’ll happily recommend the book to people who like steampunk, offbeat science fiction, British comedies, and soup.

And I’ll be a little pissed off that he wrote something similar to some ideas I’ve been working on, and did a pretty darned good job of it.


This preview was 94% accurate

"Outliers", by Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell

(disclaimer: I have actually read the first chapter of this book. But having read other Gladwell books, I’m confident that this has not ruined my preview).

Outliers. I will glean everything of real interest from this book by the end of the first chapter. There will be plenty of interesting anecdotes spread throughout, and maybe a few more facets that will flesh out the basic premise, but the main idea will be delivered in full by the end of the first chapter.

Halfway through I’ll get kind of bored and will go on the internet to read Malcolm Gladwell’s Wikipedia page. I’ll wonder how he got to where he is and who he attends cocktail parties with. Then I will pick the book back up and read it for a while before I’m interrupted by a phone call or loud noise from my downstairs neighbors.
Three weeks later I will still not have finished the book, even though it is a slim volume which could virtually be read in a single sitting. I may decide never to finish it. Because Fuck Malcolm Gladwell. Really.

There is, however, a 17% possibility I will resist putting the book down, will plow through it very fast, and will, in the final chapters, be surprised by some new detail of Gladwell’s theory, which I will then share enthusiastically with people I know as I try to get them to read it. most of them will not.


this review was 90% accurate